An Iconic Osaka Symbol Is Now Gone

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One of the most iconic symbols of Osaka is the fugu (blowfish) paper lantern that hangs over the city’s Shinsekai area. This week, the lantern was taken down as the restaurant it advertises will close.

The fugu-specialty eatery Zuboraya opened in 1920 and went on to become popular with tourists, with the blowfish lantern becoming an Osaka symbol. The restaurant temporarily closed earlier this spring due to the effects of covid-19 and the ensuing lack of customers and tourists.

The lantern itself measures 5 meters (16.4 feet) long, 3.5 meters (11.4 feet) high and 3 meters (9.8 feet) wide. It was removed by crane in the night and carted off in a truck.

Illustration for article titled An Iconic Osaka Symbol Is Now Gone
Screenshot: MBS

The area looks so lonely without that paper pufferfish.

The restaurant will officially shutter on September 15, and according to the Mainichi Daily News, the Osaka government had been trying to have the lantern removed because it violates regulations regarding how far an item can extend in front of its place of business.

Illustration for article titled An Iconic Osaka Symbol Is Now Gone
Screenshot: MBS

A sign now hangs in front of the restaurant, thanking customers for years of patronage stating, “Thank you for your love over these many years. Please take care of yourselves, everyone. Goodbye, and see you again!”


Locals have been calling for the fugu lantern to be preserved and the nearby Spa World bathhouse says it would take the famous fugu.

This is truly the end of an era.

Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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